Ask the master gardeners
Q: So many people this year are planting a victory garden. Where does the name come from?
A: During World War I, “war gardens” surfaced from food shortages and fears of increasing food prices.
During World War II, victory gardens were another way citizens could demonstrate their support of the war effort. These vegetable gardens were planted to ensure an adequate supply of food for civilians as well as troops because canned goods, being shipped to the military, were in short supply at home.
Government agencies, foundations, businesses, schools and seed companies worked together to provide land, information and seeds for individuals and communities to grow food. Americans across the country prepared back yards, vacant lots, fields and school yards for planting. The goal was to grow enough fresh produce to last through the summer. Excess produce was canned and preserved for the winter and early spring, until a new crop could be harvested.
In 1943, 40 percent of America’s food was grown in more than 20 million victory gardens.
In the post-war years, gardening was considered more of a hobby than a necessity.
Today, with concerns of global warming, the economy and food contamination, victory gardens are having a revival. It’s a way for people to reduce their food bills and increase the nutritional value of the food they eat, while decreasing the size of their carbon footprint.
Some ideas to consider, even if your space is limited:
• You can combine vegetable plants with flowers in your front yard.
• You can plant containers on your porch, patio or balcony and can grow sprouts indoors.
• Check to see if you have a community garden available.
• Perhaps a neighbor or friend without time or ability would let you garden their yard, in exchange for some produce.
If these options are not available, you can also choose to purchase foods grown locally.
Janet Fenton, Nyack, master gardener, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland